Office 365 - managing a domain means someone has to pay for a license on each domain just for forwarding?

I am new to office 365, so please bear with me.

If I manage different clients and want something like,, etc.  or some other similar email address on each of their domains and really just forward to my email address, does that take an office 365 for that forwarder?  that address would never be used to send out. Just for users or apps / hardware that sends out an alert, when it shows in my mailbox with the to line of, I'll know which client it came from.

But $4 - $5 / month / client for a forwarder (office 365 essentials license) gets expensive.  Is there another solution I don't know about?  group mailbox with just me (with an email outside the domain)? are those free? it's a group mailbox, but really just a forwarder?  Or do I want a distribution list with just me in it?  or something else?
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Damien KayCommented:
I like to create an Admin Account (like without a mailbox license, even though I can log into each customer with me delegated credentials. Redundant access...

I create a contact with a custom external email address ( and then add that contact to my "Alerts" Group (Distribution List).  

Then I can filter on the incoming messages to my mailbox by the TO address...

Forgot to mention... For some of my bigger clients, I ask them to pay for a mailbox for me, for testing purposes...

Hope this helps...


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One Office365 license (not sure if the Essential is included, or only the higher ones like SMB or Enterprise) can receive emails for up to 900 domains (as long as you own them and you can adjust some DNS records for those domains).
In the admin panel, keep adding etc in the domains section.
Then have the admin account receive those emails (since you probably only need 10 or maybe 20, I'm assuming even Essential will do).
Then, use a Redirect rule on the mailbox (because it keeps the sender's name when redirecting, unless you want it from one person, then forward is the way to go), and use filters on the destination box to know if it was meant for or etc.
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